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TAKE ME TO YOUR LITTER BOX • by Peter Wood

The phone meowed twice. It had never made that noise before. Why would anyone call at three a.m.? Eric picked it up, but there was nobody there.

Mr. Ruffles stopped licking his fur and stood on his two hind paws. “Well, that’s the signal.” He looked at Eric. “I guess we cats have collected enough data.”

Eric stared at his fat tabby. He had just left the office after spending hours trying to fix a coding error and was exhausted. He was hearing things. “What?”

Bart, Eric’s beagle, didn’t even lift his head up from the rug in front of the gas logs.

“Meow,” Mr. Ruffles said in a tone dripping with sarcasm. “The field study is complete. The mother ship should be transporting us up any minute now.”

Eric loosened his tie. “Mother ship?”

Mr. Ruffles strolled into the kitchen of Eric’s townhouse and opened the fridge. “Yep. Time to go back to the home world.” He popped off the top of an Aviator Ale, Eric’s last microbrew.

“You can open beer?” Eric managed to say.

Mr. Ruffles’ snicker was an odd cross between a meow and a chuckle. “Eric, I opened a damned beer. That’s hardly the crowning achievement of our race. We’ve mastered teleportation and interstellar travel.” He took a sip.

“How long have y’all been here?” Eric yawned. He had to return to Ace Computing Networks at seven a.m.

“How long have cats been domesticated?” Mr. Ruffles waved his paw over the wall. A panel slid open, revealing a control board with blinking multi-colored lights. The cat punched a couple of buttons. “Soon all the cats will be gone.”

“All you do is sleep all day,” Eric said. “You weren’t collecting data.”

“You do your share of sleeping too, pal.” Mr. Ruffles flicked his whiskers. “I was astral projecting. Exploring. Late at night I’d enter my findings and catalog items for study.”

Eric noticed a silver box overflowing with odds and ends in the cat’s hidden cubbyhole. The television remote and the spare keys from his Prius rested on top. “You’ve been stealing my stuff?”

“Sure,” Mr. Ruffles said. “Cats have gathered specimens for analysis for years. Little things we didn’t think you’d miss.”

“I needed that remote,” Eric snapped.

“It’s leaving the galaxy in a few minutes.”

“I got you as a kitten from the shelter, not a UFO,” Eric said.

Mr. Ruffles sighed. “I’m almost ten thousand years old. My essence just gets transferred from cat to cat.”

“Oh.”

Mr. Ruffles took a sip of beer and sat down. “And, pal, I have to tell you, humans sure come up with stupid names. Mr. Ruffles? How demeaning. It doesn’t even make sense. I doubt I was named after a family friend named Ruffles.”

Given the number of times that his ex-wife had aggravated him before she finally moved out, it wasn’t too surprising she had picked a name that annoyed the cat. “That was Molly’s idea. Sorry,” Eric muttered.

“Would you want to be named Mr. Ruffles?”

“No,” Eric admitted.

Mr.  Ruffles’ tail swished. “And don’t get me started on the litter box. What rocket scientist came up with that idea? And cat food? Yum. It’ll be so nice to have a decent meal for a change.”

A shrill beeping came from Mr. Ruffles’ control panel. The lights blinked crimson in unison. Mr. Ruffles downed the rest of his beer and set the empty bottle on the hardwoods floor. He marched over to the panel and flipped a switch.

“What’s happening?” Eric asked.

Mr. Ruffles burped. “Mass teleportation in one minute.” He glanced over at a little cloth fish attached to a rod. “I hate that damned toy.”

“I thought you liked Mr. Troutmeister.”

Mr. Ruffles rolled his eyes. “Sure you did. Look, Eric, there’s something you need to know. We didn’t come here alone. Another race agreed to help us if they were freed when we left. They’re slaves on our planet.”

With a flash of orange light, Mr. Ruffles disappeared, along with everything in his secret compartment.

Eric stared at the litter box. He probably hadn’t cleaned it enough. Had he imagined the whole thing? He needed a drink. Badly. He staggered to the fridge and remembered the cat had taken the last beer.

He heard a voice that was oddly familiar.

Bart stood on his two hindquarters. “I thought that damned cat would never leave.”


Peter Wood is an attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina where he lives with his surly cat and patient wife. He has had stories published in Asimov’s, Daily Science Fiction, Stupefying Stories and Every Day Fiction. Beaker, his fifteen year old tabby, seems far wiser than he lets on. His pensive stares suggest he might be hiding a deep secret.


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TAKE ME TO YOUR LITTER BOX • by Peter Wood, 3.6 out of 5 based on 49 ratings
Posted on July 8, 2014 in Humour/Satire, Science Fiction, Stories
Tags: ,
  • http://www.ajcapper.com/ Amanda J. Capper

    I KNEW IT!

  • sk82

    As a cat owner, or the other way around, I too often mused about what they do when I’m away. Good story.

  • Carl Steiger

    Whee! I lived with a siamese who had me convince he was an alien, or maybe possessed.
    Now on to nit-picky matters. A couple words made trouble for me. In paragraph 2, I’d have preferred “we” to “we cats,” since Eric doesn’t need to be reminded that Mr Ruffles is a cat, and it’s pretty clear to the reader as well. And in the last paragraph, the “two” in “his two hindquarters” (even though it’s technically accurate) made me envision some sort of conjoined doggy twins. Ew.

  • Gengis Bob

    All cat owners can identify with this story. Even though I knew exactly where it was going, the ride was a hoot – five stars.

  • Edward Beach

    Another talking cat story? Pete, you gotta dump this genre. I mean come on, your an attorney, there’s gotta be some sweet-ass story material just sitting there on your desk. Twist it a little and no-one will know.

    Thomas Hardy kept this little black book labelled ‘facts’, and he just crammed it with all the true events people forgot over the years and then used them to seed his stories. Truth is always better than fiction, and believe me, it’s better than talking cat fiction any day. Now, you can write, so go to work!

  • joanna b.

    ah, sorry, this one, while well written, didn’t have emotional appeal for me. the cat’s complaints seemed pedestrian for a race that had all those powers and technology, Eric didn’t feel like a developed enough MC.

  • terrytvgal

    Lots of fun to be sure… Thanks, Peter 4 stars

  • Pete Wood

    Thanks everybody for reading. This is far from a serious story.
    Carl, you hit on the one part of the story that stopped me cold. We or we cats? I finally decided on we cats so people wouldn’t think that Mr. Ruffles was talking about him and Mark.
    Edward, yeah, this story is a complete lark. But, in ten days EDF will publish a more serious story of mine.
    Pete

  • Pingback: 100 Words or Less: On the Plotting of Cats | Robot Butt

  • Author Li Boyang

    I like kittens. Good story!

    But I think the whole thing seems a bit sudden. It may be due to the fact that we never get to see how Eric and Mister Ruffles interact before the phone rang. If we’ve, there would have been more of a twist. Just what I think…

  • Pete Wood

    Good point. Eric is pretty undeveloped.
    Thanks for reading!

  • Pete Wood

    True. Mr. Ruffles certainly could have had something more significant to say to humanity before he left the galaxy. Thanks for reading!

  • Avalina Kreska

    I really hate anthropomorphising animals but unfortunately I can’t stop giggling with these talking animal stories. Maybe I need to see a doctor (or a vet). I suppose somewhere deep in me I know that they really CAN talk.

  • Pete Wood

    Of course cats CAN talk. They just don’t think we are worth talking to.

  • Dustin Adams

    My scariest nightmare, I’m not kidding, was one with intelligent animals. I woke in my bed (in the dream) to find three dogs sitting around my TV and I’d busted them, truth revealed, and they had to kill me to keep their secret.

    So I hope you’ll forgive me when I say this creeped me out. Especially the part with the talking dog… Ahem.

    But in all seriousness, what a great bit of funny!

  • Cranky Steven

    Not a bad yarn but the critters didn’t grip me emotionally like my six (six, count ‘em!) real cats do. They talk too. About dark things. They are plotting against me. You may never hear from me again. 3 stars.

  • Lenora Good

    A fun read, and a nice way to start my day. Thanks ;-)

  • Carl Steiger

    Certainly an ALIEN cat can talk. I just stopped in to read more comments, and I see something of a debate going on. And I’m reminded of a Pogo strip, in which one character (I forget which one) declares that he doesn’t believe in talking animals.

  • Pete Wood

    Sounds like a good short story.

  • Pete Wood

    Cats do have pretty distinct personalities, don’t they?
    And, yes, they are plotting against you.
    thanks for reading!

  • Pete Wood

    Thanks for reading!

  • Pete Wood

    We have met the enemy and he is us.

  • Avalina Kreska

    Naaaa… cats would ALWAYS think they are worth talking to. The way I see it, every cat speaking story shows the cat being arrogant, which they are of course.

  • Cranky Steven

    This is my third attempt to respond to you… today. The NSA or FBI or CIA keep blocking me for some nefarious reason. I don’t know why. They are probably responsible for my cats trying to assasinate me as well. But, never mind. Back to your keyboard as I am looking forward to reading more of your work! Don’t get lazy!

  • Pete Wood

    I need to tell y’all something. The public transportation system in Raleigh, NC is called Capital Area Transport. All of the buses have CAT on the side in huge letters. Coincidence? Hmmm.

  • D McMillan

    I have often thought my cat owned me rather than the other way round. Good story.

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